Today’s release of the Gallup/Purdue Index is mind-blowing in its findings — and yet they are all intuitively obvious. All college applicants should be thinking about this, as they go about the process of selecting a college. All college students should be testing their experience against these findings. Unless you’re about to graduate, it’s not too late!
The biggest headline is that the kind of college does not matter to graduates’ sense of well-being and professional success. Large, small, public, private — the data shows that it makes no difference. So spend your tuition dollars wisely.
Debt? Probably not worth it. You can’t even tilt the playing field a tiny bit in your direction by choosing a high-prestige institution.
What does make the big difference?
1. Did you have a professor who cared about you, encouraged you, made you excited about learning?
2. Did you have an internship or job that complemented your studies?
3. Were you actively involved in extracurricular activities?
4. Did you work on a long-term project?
In other words, it’s not where you go, it’s how you do it.
That all sounds good….but the Gallup poll is alarming in the small number of graduates who achieve the winning combination. Only 14% felt that they had professors who cared, made them excited about learning, and encouraged their dreams. A tiny 6% strongly agreed that they had a meaningful internship or job, were involved in extracurriculars, and worked on a long-term project.
Educators: listen up! these are important findings for our strategies, for what we measure, and how we allocate our resources.
I’m proud that Macaulay Honors College has a longstanding emphasis on the most important elements. Our students complete senior theses. Our students complete meaningful internships. We support extracurricular activities and find that the best of them come from ideas launched by our students. And while I agree with the emphasis on professors who engage their students, I also believe that professional advisors can be just as effective. We know know from our own research that college students benefit enormously from their advisors as well as from their faculty. This is particularly true for students trying to navigate the complexities of a large public institution (which is the majority of college students today) .
Wonder why Gallup waited until May 6 to release this important study….when college applicants were required to make their binding choices by May 1? Hmmmmmm.
I will be interested to see the response to this study.